Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Chemical Equator' Discovery Will Aid Pollution Mapping

Date:
September 25, 2008
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a 'chemical equator' that divides the polluted air of the Northern Hemisphere from the largely uncontaminated atmosphere of the Southern hemisphere. Researchers found evidence for an atmospheric chemical equator around 50 km wide in cloudless skies in the Western Pacific. Their findings show for the first time that the chemical and meteorological boundaries between the two air masses are not necessarily the same.

Colours indicate the carbon monoxide concentrations on 30 January 2006. Red represents polluted air and blue represents clean air.
Credit: Glenn Carver, Cambridge University

Scientists at the University of York have discovered a ‘Chemical Equator’ that divides the polluted air of the Northern Hemisphere from the largely uncontaminated atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere.

Researchers from the University’s Department of Chemistry found evidence for an atmospheric chemical equator around 50 km wide in cloudless skies in the Western Pacific. Their findings show for the first time that the chemical and meteorological boundaries between the two air masses are not necessarily the same.

The discovery will provide important clues to help scientists to model simulations of the movement of pollutants in the atmosphere more accurately, and to assess the impact of pollution on climate.

Previously, scientists believed that the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) formed the boundary between the polluted air of the Northern Hemisphere and the cleaner air of the Southern Hemisphere. The ITCZ is a cloudy region circling the globe where the trade winds from each hemisphere meet. It is characterised by rapid vertical uplift and heavy rainfall, and acts as a meteorological barrier to pollutant transport between the hemispheres.

But the new research, to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, found huge differences in air quality on either side of the chemical equator, which was 50 km wide and well to the north of the ITCZ. The study revealed that carbon monoxide, a tracer of combustion, increased from 40 parts per billion to the south, to 160 parts per billion in the north. The difference in pollutant levels was increased by extensive forest fires to the north of the boundary and very clean air south of the chemical equator being pulled north from the Southern Indian Ocean by a land based cyclone in northern Australia.

The scientists discovered evidence of the chemical equator using sensors on a specially equipped aeroplane during a series of flights north of Darwin. At the time, the ITCZ was situated well to the south over central Australia.

Dr Jacqueline Hamilton, of the Department of Chemistry at York, said: "The shallow waters of the Western Pacific, known as the Tropical Warm Pool, have some of highest sea surface temperatures in the world, which result in the region’s weather being dominated by storm systems. The position of the chemical equator was to the south of this stormy region during the ACTIVE campaign.

"This means that these powerful storms may act as pumps, lifting highly polluted air from the surface to high in the atmosphere where pollutants will remain longer and may have a global influence. To improve global simulations of pollutant transport, it is vital to know when the chemical and meteorological boundary are in different locations."

The York researchers were part of a team, including scientists from the universities of Manchester and Cambridge, that studied transport of pollutants in the Western Pacific. The ACTIVE project is led by Professor Geraint Vaughan, of the University of Manchester.

The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Other partners include the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Flinders University. Flights were carried out onboard the NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility Dornier 228 aircraft.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of York. "'Chemical Equator' Discovery Will Aid Pollution Mapping." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080923091339.htm>.
University of York. (2008, September 25). 'Chemical Equator' Discovery Will Aid Pollution Mapping. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080923091339.htm
University of York. "'Chemical Equator' Discovery Will Aid Pollution Mapping." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080923091339.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins